Crunch score bittersweet victory against one of the league's top teams.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 34 shots and stopped all 5 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the victory.
TOR Conacher, (2) (C. Smith, Valiev), 0:33
SYR Tambellini, (27) , 6:33
SYR Stephens, (1) (Broll), 11:53
TOR Arcobello, (25) (Corrin, Leivo), 4:45
It was a big win against a very talented Toronto team that by far and away has had the best regular season in the AHL. Unfortunately, the Crunch didn't get any help in the other games around the league and were eliminated from making the postseason. It's a shame for a Syracuse team that's really seemed to find itself in the last quarter of the regular season and had a nice stretch run. As it is, they should finish well over .500 for the campaign with some momentum going into the offseason and some nice new blood coming onto the roster.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch pulled out a win, but their playoff hopes were dashed.
Joel Vermin netted the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout, as the Crunch topped the Toronto Marlies, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. Both Utica and Bridgeport also earned points to mathematically eliminate Syracuse from earning a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
“We knew it was going to be a tough stretch and we needed a (lot) of help to make it happen,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “We put ourselves in this position. … It was good to get the win, but it’s certainly disappointing that we’re in this position and not in the playoffs.”
Syracuse leaves a critical point on the rink.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 32 shots and 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
SYR Gourde, (14) (Erne, Richard), 9:29 (PP)
ALB O’Neill, (12) (Lorito, Novak), 12:10
SYR Erne, (14) (Gourde, Witkowski), 5:26
ALB Lorito, (18) (Lappin, O’Neill), 13:23
ALB Kujawinski, (5) (Rooney), 2:05
SYR Richard, (11) (Vermin, DeAngelo), 5:35
Syracuse falls 7 points back of Utica and Bridgeport in the playoff chase with both teams holding a game in hand on the Crunch. At this point, to make the postseason, it's pretty much going to take Syracuse winning out and one of those other two clubs losing out. Both scenarios seem incredibly unlikely.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
United States Hockey League
Tri-City Storm 4 @ Omaha Lancers 5
G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 31 GP, 12-15-4, 2.82 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)
Omaha got a big home win over Tri-City and are two points ahead of Des Moines for sixth in the West. Oldham has sat for seven of the past eight games.
Sioux City Musketeers 3 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 4
D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 45 GP, 0-27-27, -3, 57 PIM
With Dubuque: 15 GP, 0-4-4, +4, 6 PIM
With Sioux City: 30 GP, 0-23-23, -7, 51 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)
Zuhlsdorf was scoreless, but plus-2 against his former club.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Charlottetown Islanders 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 2
QMJHL Second Round
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1
W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 3 Hits
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 3-4-7, +9, 16 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM
Charlottetown evened its series with Shawinigan Friday, winning 3-2 on the road. Yan opened the game’s scoring with his third goal of the playoffs before Charlottetown struck twice. The Cataractes tied the game at 14:33 of the third period before the Islanders notched the game-winner three minutes later. Game 3 is Sunday on PEI.
Western Hockey League
Moose Jaw Warriors 3 @ Brandon Wheat Kings 5
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Brandon leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
C Brayden Point, MJ: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 3-9-12, +2, 8 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 35-53-88, +24, 36 PIM
The Warriors dropped a 5-3 decision in Game 1 to Brandon in Manitoba. Point was second star for earning a goal and an assist in the game. Moose Jaw had leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 in the game before ultimately falling. Game 2 is Saturday.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 1
QMJHL Second Round
Cape Breton leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 6 Hits
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 0-1-1, -3, 6 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM
W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM
Cape Breton stole home ice advantage with a 4-1 win in Game 1 of their best-of-7 second round series with third-seeded Saint John. Lightning prospect Mathieu Joseph remains out of the playoffs with a cut calf muscle that required surgery. Boko Imama led the Sea Dogs in hits with six, twice as many as everyone else. Saint John’s scorers will have to step up in the absence of Joseph, who was a team leader on and off the scoresheet.
Charlottetown Islanders 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 5
QMJHL Second Round
Shawinigan leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-2-2, +3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 2-4-6, +8, 16 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM
The Cataractes had a 4-0 lead by the time the second period was only five minutes old, then got a little scare when the Islanders scored two quick goals in the next six minutes. Shawinigan held on for the victory. Yan had two primary assists. He had only two regular season multi-point games after January 11, one of which was the last game of the season.
NOTES: AHL Syracuse added three prospects yesterday, including Dominik Masin and Matthew Spencer of Peterborough, and Jonne Tammela, who was recently signed by the Lightning after his season completed in Finland.
KHL Gagarin Cup Final
CSKA 5 vs. Magnitogorsk 1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Loss, 26/30, 4.48 GAA, .867 sv%
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 10-3-0, 2 SO, 1.65 GAA, .945 sv%
Regular season totals: 22-15-9, 4 SO, 2.12 GAA, .925 sv%
CSKA scored 5 unanswered goals to crush Magnitogorsk 5-1 in Game One of the Gagarin Cup Final. Ex-Predators first rounder Alexander Radulov was one of 5 different goal scorers for CSKA in the win. Ex-Bolt Prospect Artem Sergeev had a helper in the victory, as well.
Drouinsanity returns to the Lightning and helps secure home ice for the first round.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the victory. I reiterate one of the biggest virtues of Bishop since he's joined the Lightning: he typically does not have two clunkers in a row.
5:45 TB Condra(6), (Sustr, Boyle)
7:16 NJ Kalinin(7), (Moore, Gionta)
14:45 TB Paquette(6), (Filppula, Carle)
3:50 TB Drouin(3), (Namestnikov)
9:26 NJ Kalinin(8), (Farnham)
19:13 TB Filppula(8), (Kucherov, Carle)(EN)
Jonathan Drouin was the game's second star.
For a Lightning team that hasn't had a ton to feel good about lately, tonight was a bit of psychological salve for their wounds. For the second time in the past few weeks, the Lightning played the style of game they need to in order to be successful without Stralman and Stamkos and secured a win against a hard working, fairly well structured opponent. In doing so, they got some positive results from players who have had a tough time of it all season who they now need to step up if they're going to weather their early opponents in the postseason. There's no doubt Erik Condra's playing some of his best hockey of the season lately after having gone missing for some 3/4 of the campaign. Cedric Paquette finally got back in the goal column for the first time in a blue moon, which is also a hopeful sign. It's hard to believe Paquette has sagged to just 6 goals after how well he played in the postseason last year including actually outplaying Jonathan Toews head to head in the early games of the Stanley Cup Final. And then there's 2/3 of the Dead Money Trio: Matt Carle and Valtteri Filppula. Is Matt Carle still a turnstile with eyeballs at times? Yes. Does Matt Carle still do some gobsmacking idiotic things when he has the puck at times? Yes. Has he improved somewhat, though, to help fill minutes in the absence of Stralman and Hedman? Absolutely. No denying it. And then there's Valtteri Filppula, who might be the single biggest source of my personal frustration this season. He actually provided a multi-point night tonight and I would've lost a bet if anyone had asked me to go in on whether he'd have another goal by the end of the regular season. Are 8 goals sufficient for a centerman at his salary price point? You all know the answer to that. But, a good postseason performance has a way of glossing over a disappointing regular season.
And then there's Jonathan Drouin. I feel really happy for both the Lightning organization and Drouin in how things have unfolded since Drouin decided to report back to Syracuse. The Lightning got to enforce organizational discipline and got Drouin the instructional coaching and conditioning he needed. And, Drouin capitalized when the opportunity to get back into the NHL finally came, which again proves what upside he has as a player. So, at this hour, both sides have to feel like they "won" something in a scenario where neither can have felt all that great about everything that's happened. Where it goes from here? That's another matter. Short term, Drouin's walking into a situation that seems tailor made for him to step up and prove he's a budding superstar. But, being asked to fill Steven Stamkos' shoes is a double edged sword that is, frankly, an unreasonable expectation for Drouin to have to live up to. Reason needs to prevail here in the expectation game. Drouin's not going to score the GWG every night and he's not going to instantly fill the shoes of one of the 10-20 best scorers in the game overnight. Fans, the organization, and the Drouin camp alike need to have reasonable targets for his performance, such as ensuring that scoring chances he helps create outpace those he surrenders (he won't be perfect defensively, some mistakes will happen) at a reasonable ratio, and that he's chipping in every 2-3 games. If he can do that, all sides involved should be happy with that, and it should open the door to any number of scenarios that include everything from Drouin's trade request being honored for a solid return or Drouin returning to Tampa Bay as a valued member of the organization (Vincent Lecavalier ultimately learned to live with and respect John Tortorella, so all things are possible with patience and if people act like adults). Anything more will be gravy.
The win clinches the #2 position in the Atlantic Division and home ice in the first round, while the Lightning also leapt over that 96 point target line for the season just 1 game behind schedule. That means they'll draw Detroit or Boston in the first round. Detroit would be more ideal, in my opinion, and they'd be the opponent if the shooting began right now, but they got smoked head to head by Boston tonight heading into their regular season finale against the Rangers whereas Boston draws a seemingly less difficult challenge against the Senators. Both teams are knotted in points, but DET has the tiebreaker because of their ROW advantage of 1 whole game. It's that tight.
Matt Taormina had 2 blocked shots in 17:01. It's a nice little late season reward for Taormina to get to suit up against his old organization and get a W against them.
Ontario Hockey League
Peterborough Petes 1 @ North Bay Battalion 4
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
North Bay wins best-of-7 series, 4-3
D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 0-3-3, +3, 12 PIM
Season totals: 57 GP, 8-32-40, +24, 50 PIM
D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 0-1-1, -4, 11 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 5-19-24, +1, 46 PIM
Peterborough took North Bay to the limit, but ultimately fell to the Battalion and is now out of the playoffs. Peterborough scored first, but North Bay responded with four goals, including a late empty-netter. The game marks the close of Dominik Masin’s junior career. He’s signed to an entry-level contract already and will likely join AHL Syracuse in the next few days. He could have played in the AHL this year but returned to the OHL to get ice time after missing the second half of last season. He started slow, but was near a point-per-game player over the last couple months while playing on the top pair with fellow Lightning prospect Matt Spencer. Spencer, who was a team-worst -4 in the series, will return to the OHL next season. It’s unclear if he’ll be one of the prospects brought into Syracuse to finish the AHL season.
Second round match-ups involving Lightning prospects:
"Try hard" Lightning back into the playoffs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss. His soft goal on Stepan's second on a slapper off the board was the margin, as soft goals often are.
2:42 TB Sustr(4), (Namestnikov, Marchessault)
6:07 TB Boyle(13), (Palat, Johnson)(PP)
16:55 NYR Stepan(21), (Zuccarello, Yandle)(PP)
2:33 NYR Stepan(22), (Zuccarello, Klein)
4:46 NYR Kreider(21), (M. Staal, Stepan)
Ondrej Palat was the game's third star.
The Lightning had more than enough opportunities to win this game. They jumped out to the 2-0 lead and had plenty of chances to push it to a 3 goal margin with a bushel of power play opportunities including a 5-minute major. Ultimately, the Lightning just could not crack Lundqvist to put the kill shot on the Rangers and they invited the comeback given how shorthanded Tampa Bay was tonight. On top of the regular season-ending injuries to Stralman and Stamkos they also had Hedman and Callahan out of the lineup tonight. If you're a glass half full person, you can point to the fact the Lightning manufactured 41 shots tonight with that lineup. They tried hard, and with a little better goaltending they might've stolen a point out of the night. And, yes, they probably figured out some things about how to play without some of their big guns, which will have some value moving forward. But, in the end, there just aren't any moral victories at this time of year.
Fortunately, with the Bruins losing in the SO to Carolina, the Lightning backed into a playoff spot. That's notable given that the team missed the 96 point target at the 80 game market. In another season, they might be in real trouble right now. However, with how uneven the East is this year, they can actually clinch home ice in the first round with 1 more point. They'll need it. The "try hard" Lightning are better at home, where their power play is considerably less rancid than it is on the road.
Nikita Nesterov may want to join the witness protection program after that shift on the game winning goal. That's all I'll say about that.
Slater Koekkoek had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:08. He wasn't perfect, but I thought he played reasonably well in a tight game against a quality opponent in a big market on the road. With efforts like that, I'd like to believe he'll earn some more game time to develop. I also thought he kind of surprised the Rangers a bit with the quality of his point shot in the game. He produced some rebounds with it tonight.